Occupy Has Raised Class Consciousness – Now What?

From Truth Out:  http://www.truthout.org/node/12436

by: Rose Aguilar
Monday 13 February 2012

The year 2011 will go down in history as the year in which citizens used their collective power to make economic justice part of the national conversation and force the media to focus on real issues rather than the manufactured deficit crisis. Last February, Wisconsinites began demonstrating and, eventually, occupying their state Capitol to stop attacks on public workers, collective bargaining and unions.

Since Occupy Wall Street kicked off on September 17, Occupy demonstrators across the country have raised awareness about the widening wealth gap, inequality, rising student debt, criminal activity on Wall Street, poverty and home foreclosures.

Politico’s Dylan Byers did a quick search of the news via Lexis Nexis and found a significant rise in the use of the term “income inequality,” from less than 91 instances in the week before Occupy Wall Street started to almost 500 instances in November 2011.

“The Occupy movement is an extraordinary breakthrough,” says David Korten, co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, and author of “Agenda for a New Economy.”

“On the progressive side, we tend to focus on individual issues. The Occupy movement has given us an overall framing umbrella with a focus on inequality. It may be one of the most effective branding exercises in history.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthout.org/node/12436

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Rick Santorum wants to take away your contraception to ensure sex for procreation only

This is the real Republican/Taliban-Christian Agenda.

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/19/1028034/-Rick-Santorum-wants-to-take-away-your-contraception-to-ensure-sex-for-procreation-only

Kaili Joy GrayFollow
Wed Oct 19, 2011

One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Again, I know most presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues.

Okay. So many possible directions here. We could go the facts route—like how 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women use contraception, so even the vast majority of people who are supposed to oppose contraception, you know, don’t.

Or how a majority of Americans support insurance coverage of contraception because despite the culture war against sex, Americans don’t want to get pregnant every time they screw for—sorry, Rick—pleasure.

Continue reading at:   http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/19/1028034/-Rick-Santorum-wants-to-take-away-your-contraception-to-ensure-sex-for-procreation-only

Greece’s hopes for quick bailout agreement dashed

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/feb/13/greece-hopes-quick-bailout-agreement-dashed

European commissioner Olli Rehn says the cuts agreed by Athens at the weekend were a ‘crucial step’ – but the final decision looks set to be delayed until 1 March

in Brussels
guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 February 2012

Greece‘s hopes of quickly securing a €130bn bailout looked to be dashed on Monday after a weekend of rioting and parliamentary tumult when the Papademos government pushed through a new austerity package.

Eurozone finance ministers are expected to meet in Brussels on Wednesday and had been preparing to endorse the rescue programme for Greece.

But in the wake of the drama in Athens, it became clear that the eurozone was not yet ready to wave through Greece’s second bailout in two years. Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for monetary affairs, made plain that the Athens vote was not a clincher.

It was a “crucial step” towards qualifying for the second “programme”, but not the final step. It looked as though a definitive decision would be left to an EU summit on 1 March.

The German parliament has to support the new bailout and will not debate it until 27 February. Eurozone finance ministers met last week, postponed a Greek decision, delivered an ultimatum to Athens on what it had to do, and called another meeting for Wednesday that had been expected to agree the bailout. But the best that Greece can now hope for is an agreement “in principle”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/feb/13/greece-hopes-quick-bailout-agreement-dashed

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Austerity measures ignite Athens

Republican Women Senators Breaking Ranks With Party, Come Out In Favor Of Obama Contraception Rule

I’ll go one step further.  Any woman who votes for or supports any Republican is a traitor to womankind.

From Think Progress:   http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/02/13/423946/republican-women-senators-breaking-ranks-with-party-come-out-in-favor-of-obama-contraception-rule/

By Igor Volsky
Feb 13, 2012

While GOP senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged to fightthe Obama’s administration’s modified regulation requiring health insurers and busnisses to offer contraception coverage without additional cost sharing, the revised rule “appears to have won over” two of the five Republican women senators.

Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME) — both of whom have sponsored legislation requiring insurers to offer contraception benefits in all health plans — are in favor of the new compromise, which would allow religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and hospitals to avoid providing birth control. Their employees will still receive contraception coverage at no additional cost sharing directly from the insurer:

It appears that changes have been made that provide women’s health services without compelling Catholic organizations in particular to violate the beliefs and tenets of their faith,” Snowe said in a statement. “According to the Catholic Health Association, the administration ‘responded to the issues [they] identified that needed to be fixed,’ which is what I urged the president to do in addressing this situation.

“While I will carefully review the details of the president’s revised proposal, it appears to be a step in the right direction,” Collins said in a statement. “The administration’s original plan was deeply flawed and clearly would have posed a threat to religious freedom. It presented the Catholic Church with its wide-ranging social, educational, and health care services, and many other faith-based organizations, with an impossible choice between violating their religious beliefs or violating federal regulations. The administration has finally listened to the concerns raised by many and appears to be seeking to avoid the threat to religious liberties posed by its original plan.”

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/02/13/423946/republican-women-senators-breaking-ranks-with-party-come-out-in-favor-of-obama-contraception-rule/

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America’s Non-Existent War on Religion and the Return of the Radical Religious Freedom Restoration Act

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/12/americas-non-existant-war-on-religion-and-return-rfra

by Andy Kopsa
February 13, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio introduced a so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The fact that free exercise of religion is already protected makes no difference as Rubio could be in the running for a VP spot to save the eventual candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Republican Senator Ray Blunt of Missouri sought to attach a conscience clause to a transportation bill in an effort to overturn the President’s birth control mandate. However, Democrats managed to block the amendment. Subsequently Blunt said he would “be back” with the amendment in search of another bill to attach it to. You can read the full text of the amendment here.

NARAL Pro-Choice does a good job of delivering the top line of what Blunt’s amendment could do:

The amendment allows insurers to refuse coverage of any essential health service to which they might claim a “moral” objection, including HIV treatment, alcohol and other substance-abuse counseling, in-vitro services for same-sex couples, STI counseling, prenatal care for single women, and mental-health care. Insurers could refuse to cover these services for religious or moral reasons, or if the purchaser of the plan claimed the benefit is contrary to its religious or moral convictions.

These things are nothing new.  The religious right has been trying to implement Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) on the state level for some time. These bills and resulting laws bestow special privileges on religious groups, allowing one, as an example, to turn away a gay couple from the cake shop you run if you find their lifestyle morally reprehensible based on a “firmly held” religious belief.

My go-to on all things RFRA is Marci Hamilton, who holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, where she is the founding Director of the Intellectual Property Law Program.  Hamilton is also the author of God vs. the Gavel and a constitutional expert in church-state relations.  In a 2010 article, Hamilton lays it out:

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/12/americas-non-existant-war-on-religion-and-return-rfra

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The new anti-science assault on US schools

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/12/new-anti-science-assault-us-schools

In a disturbing trend, anti-evolution campaigners are combining with climate change deniers to undermine public education

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 12 February 2012

You might have thought it was all over after the 2005 decision by the US district court of Middle Pennsylvania (pdf), which ruled in the case of the Dover Area schools that teaching intelligent design is unconstitutional. You might have guessed that they wouldn’t come back after the 1987 US supreme court decision in Edwards v Aguillard, which deemed the teaching of creationism in Louisiana schools unconstitutional. Or maybe you figured that the opponents of evolution had their Waterloo in the 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial in Tennessee.

They are back. There are six bills aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution before state legislatures this year: two each in New Hampshire and Missouri, one each in Indiana and Oklahoma. And it’s only February.

For the most part, the authors of these bills are singing a song we’ve heard before. Jerry Bergevin, the Republican sponsor of one of the New Hampshire bills, says of evolution that “It’s a worldview and it’s godless.” He blames the teaching of evolution for Nazism and Columbine. Josh Brecheen, the sponsor of the Oklahoma bill, wants to stop the teaching of “the religion of evolution.” These legislators, and their colleagues in Missouri and Indiana, trot out the hoary line that evolution is “just a theory” and that real science means saying that every point of view is just as good as any other.

Most of these bills aren’t likely to get anywhere. The Indiana bill, which specifically proposes the teaching of “creation science”, so obviously falls foul of the supreme court’s 1987 ruling that it’s hard to imagine it getting out of committee. The same could be said for the Missouri bill, which calls for the “equal treatment” of “biological evolution and biological intelligent design”.

Still, it’s worth asking: why is this happening now? Well, in part, it’s just that anti-evolution bills are an indicator of the theological temperature in state houses, and there is no question that the temperature has been rising. New Hampshire, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri turned deeper shades of red in the 2010 elections, as did the US Congress.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/12/new-anti-science-assault-us-schools

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Ultra Right Wing Woman Hating Republican Liar Orrin Hatch: Abortion is 95% of What Planned Parenthood Does

From Right Wing Watch: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/hatch-abortion-95-planned-parenthoods-activities

by Kyle Mantyla
February 13, 2012

Last week, amid the Religious Right freak-out over the Obama administration’s rule requiring health insurance plans to cover contraception, the Family Research Council hastily organized a webcast to rally the opposition called “Healthcare Mandate: Violating the Separation of Church and State.”

Among the guests was Sen. Orrin Hatch who claimed that the issue was not about contraception but rather about abortion as he asserted that abortion constitutes 95% of what Planned Parenthood does as an organization:

Complete article at:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/hatch-abortion-95-planned-parenthoods-activities

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The Way Greeks Live Now

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html?_r=1

By RUSSELL SHORTO
Published: February 13, 2012

In a little brick-walled taverna in Athens, over a lunch of Cretan salad and stuffed grape leaves, a Greek journalist named Aris Hadjigeorgiou was holding forth one day in late November about the calamitous state of his city and country as only a veteran metropolitan reporter could. He explicated the insidious ways in which the upper echelons of Greek media were intertwined with the political structure, which prevented reporting of financial mismanagement and also clouded any hope for resolving the crisis. And he noted little things, like the leaflets on car windshields advertising moving companies: literal signs of the way the economic crisis was affecting Athens, as people angled for escape routes, either abroad or to the countryside. And how the mayor’s office was at that moment considering a quaint but cockeyed approach for the season’s Christmas lighting scheme: stringing lights around the city’s hundreds of shuttered storefronts.

At some point, I asked Hadjigeorgiou how the crisis was affecting him personally. Life was getting difficult, he acknowledged. Then, prodded a bit more, he mentioned that he had not been paid by his newspaper, the major left-leaning daily, in four months. Nor had any of his colleagues at the paper. Yet despite the lack of paychecks, few if any employees had left the paper (which has since filed for bankruptcy), for the good reason that there was nowhere else to go.

Which pretty much sums up Greece. Everyone talks incessantly about the economy — about Merkel and Sarkozy and the E.U., about the tightly knit elite that has run Greece for so long and about their neighbors’ troubles and their own — but somehow everyday life rumbles on, in a collective trance, shot through with gallows humor.

By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html?_r=1

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